Let the conversation begin.
Heartfelt thanks to Megan Banning, an amazing volunteer mental health advocate for Hope Xchange, for sharing her personal story on her life growing up and living with, and accepting, her borderline personality disorder diagnosis. We wish you nothing but sunlight and smiles.
I’ve been borderline for as long as I can remember. In kindergarten, I recall standing under great white oak trees on the playground thinking, there’s something different about me. I don’t belong here. In middle school, I felt a deep depression that none of my friends understood. And, I spent my years in high school living with a burning anger towards the world.
It Felt Like My Life Was Over. This Was It.
But My Life Didn’t End That Day. It Began.
Because of my borderline, I attended an intensive outpatient clinic for three weeks.
Because of my borderline, I took a medical leave from school and spent the semester at my aunt’s house, caring for her children and suffering in silence.
Because of my borderline, I lost friends and family because I couldn’t convince them to stay.
But, because of my borderline, I am now stronger than I was before.
What My Borderline Gave Me. What I Overcame.
My borderline gave me push and pull relationships. I push away the ones I love and pull toxic people closer to me.
I overcame this.
My borderline gave me loads of empathy, causing me to take on the conflicting emotions of every person in the room.
I overcame this.
My borderline gave me an intense, burning anger, that ate me up inside.
I overcame this.
A New Empathy Emerges
Today, I live my life to the best of my ability. I take medications that help stabilize my mood, and engage in therapy both one on one and in a dialectical behavior therapy group. I control my emotions. My emotions do not control me.
In addition to helping myself, I help others by volunteering at Hope Xchange, Crisis Text Line and Planned Parenthood. I find that channeling the vibrant empathy I’ve acquired through my disorder into something tangible is a huge and helpful coping skill.
By putting my time and energy into the emotions and wellbeing of others, I choose to view my empathy in a different light. Rather than seeing it as the characteristic that’s tearing me down, I use it to lift others up. Let me explain. When you are in a good mood, and you approach someone in a bad mood, you have two options: stay happy or get sad. The empathetic person tends to take on the emotions of those around them. So clearly, the easiest option is to get sad.
However, if we work a little harder and utilize problem solving and coping skills, we can bring people up to our level instead or at least help them feel a little better. We can do this by having a firm grasp on our own emotions and being in control of our empathy, using it to help others rather than getting sucked into the twister. It’s not an easy skill to master, but if you take the time to learn it, you will live a happier, more healthily empathetic life.
Life With Borderline Still Has Its Challenges
I’m often asked, what is the most difficult part of having borderline personality disorder? After a lot of mature, intellectual consideration, I got into an argument with my partner about this. It was then that it hit me: losing control of myself in the moment is hands down the most frightening and horrific part of living with borderline personality disorder.
It’s completely terrifying to go from a functioning adult to a wild child throwing a temper tantrum. It’s like an erasure of self. I feel myself slipping away but cannot do a thing to bring myself back.
Living day to day with borderline personality disorder has been, to put it in simple terms, okay. Some days I live with a bright, blue sky. My partner plays the cello next to the sunny window as I write this on our couch. A dog is asleep at my feet. I feel happy and content.
Other days are a thunderstorm. I work four jobs when classes aren’t in session to make ends meet. I don’t get enough sleep, and I don’t always remember to take my medications on time. I get grumpy and I get sad. It’s impossible to predict what I’ll feel next.
Lately, most days have been filled with sunlight and smiles. It’s comforting to know that I am making progress. I am continually making progress. Slow but steady progress.